The Traitors Star Justine Reid On Representation, Plus-Size Modelling & Her TV Game Plan

Image courtesy of Channel 10
The Traitors contestant Justine Reid
Going on a reality TV show has always been a bucket list item for Justine Reid. After a tumultuous few years amid the pandemic, the social worker decided to finally take the plunge and apply for the new strategy-focused show, The Traitors.
"I'd come out of a very hard few years — I'd left a relationship, lost my mum and then we had COVID," the 36-year-old tells Refinery29 Australia. "I was like, 'I just want to do something that's really life-affirming and that's going to get me out of my comfort zone but still in the parameters of being fun and safe.'"
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The Traitors starts with 24 players known as the Faithful, and the aim of the game is for a mystery few — the Traitors — to eliminate the Faithful, one by one. Meanwhile, the Faithful must try and unearth the identities of the Traitors. Reid's strategy going into the game was to just be her "authentic self".
"I knew that there would be enough lies and deceit going on, that I was never going to want to be keeping track of my own," she explains. "I just wanted to be myself, and as a social worker, I'm really good at having difficult conversations."
In The Traitors mansion, everyone makes their own minds up about who people are, and Reid hasn't been exempt from people's judgments in the real world because of who she is. The First Nations woman and domestic violence survivor and advocate has faced adversity in the past, and knew that going on Aussie TV — a space that still struggles to represent various diverse communities — would be a huge deal for many other Indigenous women who rarely feel seen in mainstream media.
"You can't be what you can't see," says Reid. "I'm a Gangulu woman, also existing in a plus-size body, and I'm a single mum. There's all of these things that I guess aren't the stock standard of what you would necessarily see on reality TV."
She notes gradual progress in the representation of Indigenous people on Australian reality shows, mentioning Brooke Blurton on The Bachelorette and Sari-Ella Thaiday on The Real Love Boat.
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"Then Craig and I are both First Nations people on The Traitors and I think seeing that representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on Australian TV is great. It's important and it is happening."
Also reflecting on her time working in the fashion industry as a part-time model, Reid acknowledges she doesn't face the issue of colourism, but has only recently started to get more work as a larger woman.
"I'm white presenting, so I haven't experienced the level of racism some of my other Aboriginal brothers and sisters have," she explains. "I've always done a bit of modelling and plus-size modelling, and I've found that recently I'm getting more work because people are embracing diversity."
Reid is one of the 24 contestants still on the show who's hoping to come out with the ultimate $250,000 prize money. Only time will tell if her poker face and tact will help her make it to the very end.
The Traitors airs Sunday to Tuesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.
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